Sound Solutions #1
“We’ve all been placed in situations with family members, friends, or coworkers where we’ve shared our experiences and given advice only to have it fall on deaf ears. From my personal and professional life, I’ve learned that most people don’t heed “sound advice.” As a matter of fact, they aren’t even looking for us to tell them something. They just want talk and be heard. Therefore, my role in this quarterly comes with the following caveat: you are the expert and the authority on your situation. I am a conduit to help YOU uncover the answers that you already possess. The goal here is to promote richer dialogue. So, I wouldn’t define my responses as advice per se, rather respectful curiosity to assist with the process of personal discovery and more informed decision-making.” ~NIKKI
SHOULD I LET IT BE?
Name: Davida | Age: 25 | Location: Atlanta
I have been friends now with this wonderful woman for about three months now. She is beautiful, intelligent, funny, and so down to earth. About a month ago I asked her out just for a friendly bite to eat. We hung out and really enjoyed each other. Since then, we have had talks on the phone, we text quite often, and we seem to be getting closer. The issue here is that “the beautiful woman” has a complicated relationship with her ex-girlfriend (what lesbian doesn’t, just kidding). She has been so open and honest with me because she knows I have feelings for her. As of right now we are just friends, but I can tell there is great potential for more. At the same time though, I do not wish to be naive about the situation because there is always the chance of her going back to her ex. Should I continue to be friends with this woman even though we both know I want more from her or should I let it be and let it go?
Davida, you pose a very typical relationship question. That is, what to do when you develop a strong attraction for someone who is still somewhat attach-ed to an ex? It sounds like “the beautiful woman” is in a stage of ambivalence—vacillating between distancing from her ex and remaining connected to her. Metaphorically, “the beautiful woman” has one foot in the door and the other out. So…there is closeness between you and “the beautiful woman.” You both are really feeling each other. And you don’t want to abandon the possibility of a really good connection. Since you can’t decide which direction to take, the following are a couple of suggestions and questions to help you make a decision.
~ Proceed with caution and veracity. What exactly would need to happen so that you will know
- Initiate a more intimate association,
- Maintain a platonic relationship, or
- Let go of your involvement? In particular, which of her actions will tell you that it’s okay to make that move?
~ You said that “…‘the beautiful woman’ has a complicated relationship with her ex-girlfriend.” That makes sense, since leaving a relationship is often a very difficult decision that takes time. So protect your feelings and stay alert about emotionally dating her as she may be closely entangled with her ex. Suppose “the beautiful woman” decides to recommit to her ex, how would that affect you emotionally and the friendship with her?
~ Accept her silence and ambivalence and avoid creating expectations for her. In terms of the current friendship, what are the BEST and WORST efforts you can make? What does the BEST outcome for you look like? And what does the WORST outcome for you look like?
I encourage you to answer each of the aforementioned questions. They may help you produce an answer about how to proceed.
Nikki Jones is a therapist-in-training and second-year graduate student at the University of Louisville. She currently works with families, couples, and individuals at a community mental health agency.